No. 14 Butler Escapes the Threat of Wright St., 66-61
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Julian Betko scored a career-high 17 points, all in the first half, and No. 14 Butler held off Wright State 66-61 Thursday night to clinch the No. 1 seed in next week's Horizon League tournament.
The 6-foot-6 senior from Slovakia topped his previous career high of 15 points in 14 minutes in the first half and missed his only attempt in the second period.
Butler (26-3, 15-2), which had lost its past three games against Wright State, finishes the regular season against last-place Detroit on Saturday. The Bulldogs had already clinched at least a tie for the regular-season title, and the win assured them of the top seed and a bye into the conference tournament semifinals at Butler on March 8.
Wright State (20-8, 13-5) would get the No. 2 seed and a spot in the semifinals by beating Valparaiso on Saturday. But a loss to the Crusaders could drop the Raiders to the third seed and force them to play a first-round game at home on Tuesday.
Betko, whose previous high this season was 14 points in a 43-42 loss at Wright State in December, bettered his career best against Tennessee last year with his fifth straight 3-pointer of the first half. That basket completed a seven-point run and gave the Bulldogs a 36-29 lead with under two minutes left in the period.
Butler, which led by eight early in the game, had a chance for a 10-point lead before Betko's first miss. A 3-pointer by Duggins that bounced on the rim and dropped in at the buzzer cut the Bulldogs' lead to 36-32 at the half.
Wright State cut the lead to one twice midway through the second period. But six straight free throws and a 3-point basket by Green helped the Bulldogs pad the lead, and the Raiders never caught up.
Both teams were coming off losses, with Butler 's 71-64 loss to Drake snapping a nine-game winning streak, and Wright State's 54-46 setback to Illinois State snapping an 11-game win streak.
The Raiders fell behind early because of the hot shooting by Betko and came back only after his first trip to the bench for a breather.
A 3-pointer by Duggins gave Wright State its first lead at 21-19, but Betko returned and immediately hit two more 3-pointers to put Butler back in front. There were two more ties before Butler's late run put it ahead for good.